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MI6/CIA campaign against Chavez in The Guardian


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Laptop emails link Venezuela to Colombian guerrillas

Rory Carroll in Caracas and Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá

The Guardian, Friday, 16 May 2008

President Hugo Chávez faces serious allegations over Venezuela's links to Colombian guerrillas after an investigation into seized laptops.

Interpol announced that a two-month forensic investigation of the laptops seized in a raid by Colombian security forces on a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) camp in Ecuador concluded that they belonged to the Marxist group.

Leaks from the trove of files and photographs have suggested high-ranking Venezuelan officials plotted to help the Marxist group obtain weapons and funding for its decades-long insurgency.

Interpol said on Wednesday that the amount of information - 37,872 word documents and 210,880 photo files - was much greater than previously thought.

At a televised announcement in Bogotá, Interpol certified that Colombia did not tamper with the files but made no judgment about their reliability or accuracy.

Ronald Noble, the Interpol secretary general, said internationally accepted methods for handling computers were not always followed, but Bogotá had not modified, altered or created files.

Analysts have cautioned that the Farc's internal memos may contain misinformation or wishful thinking.

Chávez's ideological affinity with South America's most powerful guerrilla force is no secret and earlier this year he negotiated the release of six hostages held in their jungle camps.

But providing logistical support would be a radical escalation given that the United States and European Union list the Farc as a terrorist organisation which trafficks cocaine.

Chávez, who has claimed the documents were fakes and an attempt by the US and "imperialist lackeys" in Bogotá to smear his revolutionary socialism, fiercely denounced Interpol's findings.

He called Noble "an immoral police officer who applauds killers", referring to Colombia's March 1 attack on the Farc camp in Ecuador that killed 25, including the rebel leader, Raul Reyes.

The raid yielded three laptops, three USB memory sticks and two external hard disks that have been dubbed the Farc's "brain".

"Ecuador is right," Chávez said. "The Colombian government should be tried in an international tribunal."

Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, whose leftist government is also accused of conspiring with the Farc, said the documents "prove absolutely nothing". They were an attempt by Colombia to justify its cross-border attack on a Farc camp inside Ecuador.

In one leaked email dated January 2007 the Farc's military leader, Jorge Briceño, also known as Mono Jojoy, told the rebels' governing secretariat that he planned to ask Chávez for a loan of $250m, "to be repaid when we take power".

In another coded email from April 2005 a rebel identified as Iván wrote that "Tino", who was said to be responsible for Venezuela's Popular Defence Units, a civilian militia, wanted help from Farc in teaching guerrilla tactics.

Other leaked documents suggest Venezuelan officials served as middlemen with Australian arms dealers to help the rebels obtain Chinese-made surface to air missiles which could shore up their faltering military campaign.

Republican hawks in Washington have pushed for Venezuela to be listed as a state sponsor of terror along with the likes of Syria, Iran and North Korea.

The White House, hostile to Chávez but leery of disrupting Venezuelan oil imports, has soft-pedalled the issue by asking Caracas to explain why some officials were "conspiring against a democratic neighbour".

Riordan Roett, the director of western hemisphere studies at the Washington-based School for Advanced International Studies, said rhetoric may heat up but oil would keep flowing. "The hardliners are not going to win this one unless Chávez does something really blatant."

The controversy will overshadow a summit of European and Latin American leaders which opens today in Peru, with angry exchanges likely between the Andean delegations.

But the war drums which briefly beat in March have not resumed. Arlene Tickner, a professor of international relations at Bogotá's National University, predicted the fallout "isn't going to be much worse than it has been".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/20...ezuela.colombia

Response:

It is not only Chávez who has links to guerrillas

Uribe's dealings with rightwing paramilitaries remains an untold story, says Andy Higginbottom

Andy Higginbottom

The Guardian, Tuesday, June 3 2008, p.31

Your report on the find by Colombian security forces diverts attention from the mounting evidence of President Álvaro Uribe's own links with rightwing paramilitary death squads (Laptop emails link Chávez to guerrillas, May 16).

The article states that Interpol "announced that a two-month forensic investigation of the laptops seized in a raid by Colombian security forces concluded they belonged to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc)".

None of the findings in Interpol's report "conclude" any such thing, as in conclude after an investigation. The two Interpol investigators are computer experts: neither speaks Spanish, and they were tasked solely with inspecting the kit. Interpol assumes that the equipment it inspected was indeed used by Farc, it did not investigate the circumstances of their seizure, when the Colombian army killed 25 guerrillas in its raid into Ecuador on March 1. Are the Colombian security services to be trusted?

It is they who presumably sourced the article's claim that: "Leaks from the trove of 16,000 files and photographs have suggested high-ranking Venezuelan officials plotted to help the Marxist group to obtain weapons and funding."

Your article is more remarkable for the story it did not tell, also involving computers. In the early hours of May 13 Uribe extradited 14 leaders of the paramilitary Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia from its custody to penitentiaries in the US. This manoeuvre leaves in tatters any justice component of the government's own "justice and peace" process. Despite admitting the murder of more than 4,000 people, the "para" leaders have been extradited on drugs charges, not human rights violations, for which they may never stand trial.

In the course of this sudden extradition, top paramilitary Salvatore Mancuso's computer and the hard drives used by four other leaders have disappeared from Itagüí maximum security prison. One drive was used by "Tuso Sierra", known to have business dealings with the former senator Mario Uribe, President Uribe's cousin and lifelong political ally.

With no less than 96 Uribe supporters in the country's congress being held in detention or under investigation for links with the paramilitaries, this latest manoeuvre adds to the suspicion that Uribe himself enjoys impunity at home and in the US. International press investigation of the allegations is thus vitally important, but still woefully absent.

Uribe and Chávez exemplify the two social models competing for the continent's future: neoconservatism versus "socialism of the 21st century". The Andean region is split. Like Uribe, Peru's Alan García is eager to strike a free trade and investment deal with the European Union, while Ecuador and Bolivia, like Venezuela, will not accept the EU's privatisation terms.

In Lima this month I joined 8,000 participants from indigenous peoples' groups, environmental organisations and social movements - at the "people's summit"; we rejected the primacy of corporate interests in the relationship between our two continents. We would all appreciate a better informed reporting of these inspirational developments rather than mere snapping at Chávez.

Dr Andy Higginbottom is a senior lecturer at Kingston University and is secretary of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign a.higginbottom@kingston.ac.uk

http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/17613

The Guardian Covers (Up) Colombia’s Reality

London’s “Left Leaning” Newspaper Props Up Latin America’s Most Authoritarian Government

May 12, 2008 By Joe Emersberger

Source: Narco News

Joe Emersberger's ZSpace Page

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Colombia received more detailed attention than usual from the daily Guardian of the UK during the months of March and April of this year for many reasons:

1) On March 1 Colombia's military violated Ecuadorian sovereignty to kill Raul Reyes, a leftist (FARC) guerrilla leader, and thereby provoked a regional crisis.

2) In mid March a minor scandal erupted due to UK Foreign Minister Kim Howells' aggressive support for UK arms exports to Colombia

3) Rumors were reported in late March that a high profile hostage of the FARC rebels, Ingrid Betancourt, was gravely ill.

4) Mark Penn resigned on April 6 from Hillary Clinton's campaign because of his lobbying work on behalf of Colombia in support of a trade agreement with the US.

During these two months the Guardian published 38 articles that discussed Colombia in significant detail. It is a very revealing exercise to scan these articles for information that is readily available on the website of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

HRW is a prominent organization with a track record of being disproportionately hard on US enemies (Hizbullah, Hamas, Venezuela) and soft on the US allies (Israel, Haiti under Gerard Latortue). [1] It is not a group likely to exaggerate the crimes of a US and UK ally.

One might expect that a supposedly left leaning newspaper like the Guardian would, at the very least, tell readers what HRW has been reporting.

In February of 2008, in an article for the Progressive magazine, two senior HRW officials wrote:

"For years, the Bush administration in the United States has stood by the government of President Álvaro Uribe in Colombia unconditionally, turning a blind eye to Colombia's serious human rights problems. The Blair government in the UK, for the most part, quietly followed suit, providing substantial assistance to Colombia's military with no strings attached. Colombia presents one of the worst human rights records in the world. At nearly three million, Colombia's population of internally displaced persons is second only to that of Sudan. " [2]

In the 38 articles examined, not a single word (out of roughly 25,000) appeared about Colombia's internally displaced people. No doubt, unconditional support for Colombia is easier to maintain when the magnitude of its human rights disaster is completely hidden by the Liberal media, but the Guardian did not just bury the scale of the crimes. It kept the leading perpetrators mostly out of sight.

HRW's summary reports about Colombia from 1989-2002 frequently pointed out that the vast majority of political murders have been perpetrated by the military and rightwing paramilitary groups that operate with the tolerance and even direct support of the military. In 2002, HRW reported that the largest paramilitary death squad (AUC) was responsible for 50% of political killings compared to 8% for the FARC, the largest of the leftist rebel groups.[3]

In more recent years, HRW has shied away from identifying the leading perpetrators of political murders. Instead it has reported qualitative conclusions regarding a limited subset of crimes. For example, it has reported that leftist rebels are responsible for most recruitment of child soldiers while paramilitaries are usually responsible for murdering trade unionists.[4]

However, according to the Jesuit-run Center for Research and Popular Education (CINEP), whom HRW has cited in past reports, as of 2006 the majority of human rights abuses continued to be perpetrated by the Colombian military and the paramilitaries. [5]

HRW's recent reports give no reason to doubt CINEP's conclusions. In 2005 HRW produced an extensive report exposing the fraudulence of the Colombian government's "demobilization" of the paramilitaries. The report, entitled "Smoke and Mirrors: Colombia's demobilization of paramilitary groups" summarized the situation of the paramilitaries as follows:

"Colombia's right-wing paramilitary groups are immeasurably powerful. Through drug trafficking and other illegal businesses, they have amassed enormous wealth. They have taken over vast expanses of the country's territory to use for coca cultivation or as strategic corridors through which they can move drugs and weapons. In recent years, they have succeeded in expelling left-wing guerrillas and strengthening their own control of many parts of the country. And thanks to this power, they now exert a very high degree of political influence, both locally and nationally.....paramilitaries have historically enjoyed the collaboration, support, and toleration of units of the Colombian security forces, a fact that has led many to refer to the paramilitaries as a ‘sixth division' of the army. Today, paramilitaries have made major gains in consolidating this impunity, along with their economic and political power, with the collusion of the Colombian government." [6]

To what extent did the Guardian convey any of this during the months of increased attention on Colombia?

In the 38 Guardian articles the word "FARC" appears 135 times; only 17 times do the words "paramilitary" or "paramilitaries" appear. There were 13 articles that mentioned Colombia's baseless allegations of Venezuelan collaboration with the FARC [7] - only five articles that mentioned the well documented collaboration between the Colombian government and the paramilitaries. But even these lopsided numbers understate the extent to which the Guardian covered up Colombia's human rights record.

On March 26, HRW, along with 22 other international human rights organizations that included Amnesty International, signed an open letter to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe after four unionists were murdered who were involved with protests against paramilitary violence that took place on March 6. Many other protest organizers were attacked and received death threats. The open letter stated:

"Shortly before the attacks, presidential adviser José Obdulio Gaviria made a series of statements on national radio linking renowned victims' representative Ivan Cepeda and other organizers of the March 6 protest to the notoriously abusive guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). On February 11, one day after Gaviria first made the statements, the supposedly demobilized United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary group released a statement echoing Gaviria's allegations." [8]

The letter called on Uribe to denounce the baseless allegations and break the links between the paramilitaries and his government. Neither the open letter nor the March 6 protests were reported by the Guardian.

It is worth looking closely at one of the five Guardian articles that did actually mention collaboration between the government and rightwing paramilitaries. The article, "Colombia's ‘parapolitics' scandal casts shadow over president", by Sibylla Brodzinsky was published April 23. Brodzinsky wrote:

"Mario Uribe was the latest in a string of more than 30 politicians elected to Congress in 2006 who have been arrested on charges related to conspiracy with the paramilitary death squads that controlled huge swathes of the nation before they began demobilizing in 2003."

This neglects to mention that most of the politicians are from Uribe's coalition and that the paramilitary power has been left untouched by the "demobilization". A week before Brodzinsky's article appeared HRW had reported:

"Nearly all the 30,000 ‘demobilized' paramilitaries are free and have never been investigated" and that "scores of ‘new' groups closely linked to the paramilitaries are operating all over the country, engaging in extortion, killings, forced displacement, and drug trafficking. " [9]

Brodzinsky also wrote:

"President Uribe has said that it is thanks to his policies that Colombia has been able to go through the collective catharsis."

This argument stood unchallenged even though HRW had recently provided a strong counter argument:

"....these investigations are the result of an initiative by the Colombian Supreme Court - not the Uribe Administration. While Uribe has funded the court, he has often taken steps that could undermine the investigations, lashing out against Supreme Court Justices and even, at one point, floating a proposal to let the politicians avoid prison." [10]

Brodzinsky then made the following outlandish claim:

"Despite repeated journalistic and judicial investigations into alleged links between the president and paramilitary groups, no evidence has ever come forth."

There is, of course, overwhelming evidence of very strong links between the Colombian government (which has been run by Uribe for several years) and the paramilitaries. Some of the evidence is even reported in Brodzinsky's article. The Guardian appears to employ an unique definition of the word "evidence" for politicians supported by Washington.

Brodzinsky's article also cited Urine's 84% approval rating, but failed to convey the risks that journalists, activists and politicians take with their lives if they challenge Uribe. It would be wrong to deny that Uribe has significant popular support, but it would also be wrong to deny that his government makes eroding that support through peaceful means is a very dangerous task.

Moreover, there is good reason to believe Urine's approval rating exaggerates his level of support. In presidential elections Uribe has captured the vote of roughly 25 percent of the eligible voters. In 2003, Uribe campaigned very aggressively for the passage of a "yes" vote on a referendum that made fifteen sweeping proposals. He failed to convince 25 percent of the electorate to turn out for it - the minimum turnout required for it to pass - despite having a 75 percent approval rating at the time.[11]

The Guardian's coverage of Colombia explains why UK Foreign Minister Kim Howells dared to be photographed with Colombian soldiers (in fact, with a unit accused of murdering trade unionists), and why Howells had the audacity to lash out maliciously at Justice For Colombia, a UK based solidarity group. [12]If newspapers like the Guardian do not even report much of what establishment friendly groups like HRW have to say then it should come as no surprise that backing Colombia's worst criminals comes with negligible consequences.

SUGGESTED ACTION

Write to the Guardian readers editor Siobhain Butterworth

reader@guardian.co.uk

Siobhain.Butterworth@guardian.co.uk

Write to Guardian Journalists Sibylla Brodzinsky and Rory Carroll (Latin America Correspondent)

sibylla.brodzinsky@guardian.co.uk

rory.carroll@guardian.co.uk

NOTES

[1] http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/emersberger240208.html

http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/4131

http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/Herman_P...Szmaely2007.pdf

http://www.counterpunch.org/cook09252006.html

http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.p...g=11&ar=705

[2] http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/02/01/colomb17975.htm

[3] http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=americas&c=co...nt_limit=120,20

[4] http://hrw.org/englishwr2k7/docs/2007/01/11/colomb14884.htm

http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/04/15/colomb18551.htm

[5] http://www.cipcol.org/?p=580

[6] http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/colombia0805/

[7] http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/04/16/colomb18630.htm

[8] http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/04/16/colomb18630.htm

[9] see note 8

[10] http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/04/16/colomb18630.htm

Also, for a great summary of the "parapolitics" scandal see: http://www.cipcol.org/?p=542

[11] The referendum results are here

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/ma...icy.tradeunions

[12] http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/ma...icy.tradeunions

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Yes, the Guardian, amongst others, has an irrational hatred of Chavez, a democratically elected populist leader. It has been documented for years the direct involvement of Uribe and the Colombian drug trade:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB131/dia910923.pdf

Something is definitely under way in that part of the world.

1.The US is reactivating the Forth Fleet after a 60 year dormancy. It is part of the Southern Command and will be based in Florida (Mayport Naval Station) and will operate in Latin America from the Caribbean to the tip of the cone. It will start operations in July. It will be commanded by Admiral Joseph Kernan. An interesting choice as he currently heads the Naval Special Warfare Command which has the SEALS and other counter insurgency units. All this for a region of NO threat to the US and no ongoing hostilities anywhere in the region with the exception of a low level internal dispute between FARC and Colombian military. Why now?

2. The US is looking at building a military base in Colombia near the Venezuela border in the La Guajira region. Colombia has denied this at least for that region but.... Ecuador is not going to be signing the renewal for the US base at Manta. Venezuela says that they will resurrect a long dormant border dispute with Colombia if they permit the US to build a base there. The US will not confirm what is happening but something is happening.

3. And don't forget the role of Dynacorp in the area.

http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=...22+04%3A19%3A08

U.S. INTELLIGENCE LISTED COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT URIBE AMONG

"IMPORTANT COLOMBIAN NARCO-TRAFFICKERS" IN 1991

Then-Senator "Dedicated to Collaboration with the Medellín Cartel at High Government Levels"

Confidential DIA Report Had Uribe Alongside Pablo Escobar, Narco-Assassins

Uribe "Worked for the Medellín Cartel" and was a "Close Personal Friend of Pablo Escobar"

Washington, D.C., 1 August 2004 - Then-Senator and now President Álvaro Uribe Vélez of Colombia was a "close personal friend of Pablo Escobar" who was "dedicated to collaboration with the Medellín [drug] cartel at high government levels," according to a 1991 intelligence report from U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officials in Colombia. The document was posted today on the website of the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research group based at George Washington University.

Uribe's inclusion on the list raises new questions about allegations that surfaced during Colombia's 2002 presidential campaign. Candidate Uribe bristled and abruptly terminated an interview in March 2002 when asked by Newsweek reporter Joseph Contreras about his alleged ties to Escobar and his associations with others involved in the drug trade. Uribe accused Contreras of trying to smear his reputation, saying that, "as a politician, I have been honorable and accountable."

The newly-declassified report, dated 23 September 1991, is a numbered list of "the more important Colombian narco-traffickers contracted by the Colombian narcotic cartels for security, transportation, distribution, collection and enforcement of narcotics operations." The document was released by DIA in May 2004 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Archive in August 2000.

The source of the report was removed by DIA censors, but the detailed, investigative nature of the report -- the list corresponds with a numbered set of photographs that were apparently provided with the original -- suggests it was probably obtained from Colombian or U.S. counternarcotics personnel. The document notes that some of the information in the report was verified "via interfaces with other agencies."

President Uribe -- now a key U.S. partner in the drug war -- "was linked to a business involved in narcotics activities in the United States" and "has worked for the Medellín cartel," the narcotics trafficking organization led by Escobar until he was killed by Colombian government forces in 1993. The report adds that Uribe participated in Escobar's parliamentary campaign and that as senator he had "attacked all forms of the extradition treaty" with the U.S.

"Because both the source of the report and the reporting officer's comments section were not declassified, we cannot be sure how the DIA judged the accuracy of this information," said Michael Evans, director of the Archive's Colombia Documentation Project, "but we do know that intelligence officials believed the document was serious and important enough to pass on to analysts in Washington."

In a statement issued on July 30, the Colombian government took exception to several items reported in the document, saying that Uribe has never had any foreign business dealings, that his father was killed while fleeing a kidnap attempt by FARC guerrillas, and that he had not opposed the extradition treaty, but merely hoped to postpone a referendum to prevent the possibility that narcotraffickers would influence the vote.

The communiqué, however, did not deny the most significant allegation reported in the document: that Uribe had a close personal relationship with Pablo Escobar and business dealings with the Medellín Cartel.

The document is marked "CONFIDENTIAL NOFORN WNINTEL," indicating that its disclosure could reasonably be expected to damage national security, that its content was based on intelligence sources and methods, and that it should not be shared with foreign nationals.

Uribe, the 82nd name on the list, appears on the same page as Escobar and Fidel Castaño, who went on to form the country's major paramilitary army, a State Department-designated terrorist group now engaged in peace negotiations with the Uribe government. Written in March 1991 while Escobar was still a fugitive, the report was forwarded to Washington several months after his surrender to Colombian authorities in June 1991.

Most of those on the list are well-known drug traffickers or assassins associated with the Medellín cartel. Others listed include ex-president of Panama Manuel Noriega, Iran-contra arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, and Carlos Vives, a Colombian entertainer said to be connected to the narcotics business through his uncle.

Uribe's response to the publication of the above documents

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB....htm#colgovstmt

If they want to talk about what is on the computers what about all the Narco terrorist in Uribes government including Uribe that are also on the computers. This is just an attack on Chavez (and others).

They are looking for their Gulf of Tonkin.

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........... We obviously never learned any lessons in, say, Chile helping [sic] to overthrow that democratically elected government of Allende - or so many others. At the CIA, MI6 and their sister agencies [and now privitized clones] nothing has changed - except their budgets - which are all up; while morality and democracy at home are down. Its such a wonderful time in the world.......

Peter,

I think 'they' learned their lesson very well. While it may have been disastrous for the average person in Chile (as it will be for those in Venezuela) it was a rip roaring success for the elites in Chile and the US. Ah... the good old days.... when trains ran on time and workers knew their place. If only they can globalise it. It would be so much better for business. One world order.

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